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2015 Easter Time

It always happens doesn’t it?  We are cruising along the highway of life.   Something happens,  a loved one falls ill,  an accident happens or a tragedy.   We don’t expect it, we can not foresee it and we never want it.   We have to adjust, adapt and move forward because there is not a rewind button.

The excitement of Holy Week rushed by.   And now I am finding myself standing in the pool of exhilaration like when you go down one of those big water slides!   It is Easter time!

Easter (FYI – the resurrection of Jesus) doesn’t end on Easter Sunday.   Jesus shows Himself multiple times to many different people (One of the many reasons that the christian faith is so strong is the fact that many people testified to this fact and not only was it recorded in many letters (aka the Bible), but it also had to be passed down, verbally, to many more friends and family.  Which makes up our deposit of faith.)   One of my favorites is on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24) when Jesus comes upon two men walking home from Jerusalem, three days after Jesus was crucified.   He walked and talked with them.   He explained to them why He had to be crucified.  They were amazed.   They wanted more.   Later that day as they were about to dine with Him  I think they were astute enough to ask Him to say a blessing before breaking the bread.   And Jesus “took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them” , their eyes were opened and then Jesus vanished.

This year during Easter time, let us be willing to open our eyes, our minds, our hearts and recognize Jesus in our lives.   Now Jesus can appear in many ways such as; movies, music, children, animals, scenery, sports, work or even old family pictures.   The funny thing is if you seek Him, you are more likely to find Him!

2015 Lent Day 38

Today’s Readings

Music is the universal language.   It breaks all barriers and can heal all wounds.   It is passionate, loving, joyful, soothing,  tingling and simply amazing.    Each area of the world makes, creates and is passionate about their music.  They are also willing to share when asked or when they are feeling anyone of those emotions.

Jesus sings a new song that we all should listen to and if you feel one of those emotions or you begin to dance then share it when someone asks you!

First Love

When did you know?

Do you remember?  Of course you do.   We all remember that first love or better yet, that one lasting true love.  Yes I remember and it’s easy for me because I am fortunate enough to wake up to her each day.

There is all different kinds of love though.   I love sports, pizza and beer.  I love being lazy.  I still love watching Star Wars, Judge Dredd, Rambo and the Green Berets.  I love playing a game of basketball or soccer (my knees do not love it though!).   And I love the fact that, in my mind, I could still run quarter mile under a minute, in my mind.   My brother gave me the Lynyrd Skynyrd album – Second Helping.   I put that in the old stereo console and turned it up!   I loved “Sweet Home Alabama!”  and on the flip side “Call me the Breeze!”  (I think I still have that album – it’s a little dusty and worn now).    I loved playing “blood and guts” in the back yard.   I loved riding bikes with friends and doing some real stupid things that sometimes involved a lot of trust of one’s abilities.   I loved staying up all night with my best friend Shawn for the Jerry Lewis telethon.   I loved that first day with the new bike,  driving, and going to the drive-in.   Oh so many things that I loved and love and I really do look forward to the next thing I will love.

I look forward to loving the day (soon, very soon) that our lovely daughter will graduate from law school.  I look forward to loving the time when our son will graduate from college.  I am loving learning how to play the ukulele and love to listen to all the different sounds it can make.  I know that I will love the next time we (family or friends) get together.  I know I will love the day that I get to be the head referee at a high school swim meet (weird? maybe – but I do love it!).  I look forward to loving the day of retirement and loving living the next fifty years with my first true love.

And as The Beatles so eloquently stated “Love is all you need”

Why I am catholic…….reverence

My baby sister visited us a few years back.  Not exactly for a happy visit because our older brother just past away.  But that’s another story and I have mentioned it here and there in other writings.

But she had never attended a catholic mass, even though one of her best friends growing up was catholic (as was my best friend too!) .   So I, like the big brother I am, instructed her on a few things one of which was concerning the eurcharist or communion.  She could go up if she wished and receive a blessing from the priest.  She choose to stay put in the pew.   After we got home I asked her how she did she like her first mass,  “it was reverent” were her words.   I couldn’t agree more.

At our parish we have a total of five different mass times for you to choose from.   Each one has a little bit of a different flavor to it.  One mass is a little more geared towards the teens and young adults.  It has a little more upbeat  current music flare to it and the teens are more apt to start dancing in the pews or isle if the Holy Spirit strikes them.  But when the procession begins til the last song sung the teens and young adults (and those young in heart) are reverent.   To contrast the teen mass to the early morning mass,  you guessed it, very few teens.  Yet the early morning mass has a different type of reverence to it and a very quiet reverence.  At the early mass you can hear yourself pray and during your prayer it can carry you away.

What is reverence?  According to that ever reliable source,  it states;

Definition of REVERENCE

1: honor or respect felt or shown : deference; especially : profound adoring awed respect
2: a gesture of respect (as a bow)
3: the state of being revered
4: one held in reverence —used as a title for a clergyman
Let’s look at this a little closer.           The Church  (when I say the Church I mean the Roman Catholic Church….just sayin’), the Church is issued the mission of guarding the deposit of faith to which the Lord intrusted.    And the Church’s responsibility is to keep her guard up and defend these deposits of faith which Christ taught us.  The Church uses not just the books of the Bible that are inspired by God but also those teachings which Christ, Himself being 100% Divine and 100% human, taught His (hand-picked) apostles.  He taught them by way of oral teachings and better yet by example.  What do we say to our kids “do what I say, not what I do” – wait, strike that, reverse it.
But that “teaching” by example is what is passed on down to us today and what in fact makes our faith so strong.
So when I think of “reverence” I think of all those who came before us and showed us how to be reverent.  I think of the what those apostles must of been thinking and did they know and respect what they were witnessing.  Of all the disciples that listen to Jesus’ teachings and the reverence they had for Him here on earth.  And what about those who listen to the words of those who listened to Jesus teaching them the beatitudes.  We are a people of faith.  We need not witness miracles to believe because we believe by those who live by example and  by the greatest teacher, Jesus Christ.
It’s another reminder of when the priest holds Him up high, in reverence and says “Behold The Lamb of God”

Why I am catholic ….. it’s got soul!

Duke Ellington, Dextor Gordon, Cannonball Adderly, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker – What do all of these gentlemen have in common?  Yes they are great jazz players.  Yes they all play saxophone.  Yes – they all have that thing we call “Soul”, that intangible, unseeable something that makes their music touch our soul!

Lately, well the last few years anyway, I have come to appreciate jazz more and more.   Probably due to the interest that my son has in jazz itself and the fact that he also plays the saxophone (tenor and alto) and is looking to make his mark or career in music someday.  Jazz (imo), is unscripted and yet flows like a river down a mountain, very gentle with a sudden roar, peaceful at the end.  And you feel it’s soul through each instrument.

The sacred scriptures tells us that someday Jesus will come again to raise the living and the dead.   Paul, I believe, also tells us that our spirit will continue to live on even after our physical bodies die.  We say a prayer “Oh my Jesus, Forgive us of our sins. Save us from the fires of hell.  Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.”   We pray for those who have just died(especially Margret McGrath) in this life and now await until Jesus returns in glory.   All of us have soul!

Where did this soul come from you ask, well of course from the beginning from God.  In Genesis 2:7  “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”  It’s hard to imagine that without a soul we are merely like animals without a soul and we would only be interested in survival.   And at times we behave like animals, instinctively, without remorse or thought of what lies ahead for us.  And since we have been created in the image of God we are all born with a good soul!

 Aristotle defined the soul  as the essence or definition of a living being.  St. Thomas Aquinas believes the soul to be the first principal of the body.   Different people including pyschologists, scienctists, medical doctors and other philosophers have tried to explain, contain and even weigh the soul.  This is what I enjoy about not being a scientist or even a pyschologist, when it comes to explaining our soul or even how when came to be, they have no better explaination than the homeless standing in line at the soup kitchen.    Stephen Hawking, a “great” physicist/mathamatician, explains the beginning of th universe this way ( a “new” discovery he detailed last year in a new book I believe – and this is not a quote)   — because I can not explain how we came into being means that their is a God.   Well Stephen since I believe that you have a good soul because you do keep searching for an answer to our existence, I will help you understand that deep in your soul you know their is a God.

So when we are giving from heart and soul we are drawn closer to God.

Listen to the music

Why do schools continue to cut music and art programs?  Is it because as a society we do not believe these occupations provide much benefit/pay/reward?  …..mmm  – just on the surface thinking about this let’s see how big the music industry is, how big the advertising industry is and how much the these two contribute to our society and communities as a whole (music, arts, theatrical productions) . 

Part of the problem is us morons who have no talent.  We understand (and read) in black and white.  We have a difficult time interpreting anything.  We understand control.  You study and learn law, pass a test and now you’re a lawyer – yes we understand.  You study medicine, pass a test and now you’re a doctor – yes we understand.  You study how to teach kids to study to pass a test, you pass the test and now you’re a teacher – yes we understand.   You learn how to play the saxophone, you learn how to read music, you can write music, you can free-lance music, you have tremendous rhythm, you are a poet, people applaud and say “I love your music” –  NO we do NOT understand.

How much smarter is a musician over an engineer?  a scientist?  even a doctor?  Is this really a fair question you ask.  Why not?   If an engineer draws out a plan – let’s say to saw off a pipe and put a cap on an oil well (as an example of course) and it doesn’t work?  Do they get fired? Do they get an immediate – “Well that was lousy!”  – probably not.  If a scientist writes out the formula for a cancer cure and after years of test it does not work – Do they get fired?  or kicked out of the lab?  maybe they don’t receive an invitation to the Christmas party next year.  If a musician plays the national anthem to a pack house and actually interprets the song to an original tune – Do they hear the boos?  Are they told “YOU SUCK”  ?  Are they invited back next time?   A harsh reality is Yes they are booed,  Yes they are heckled,  and poof – they are gone.

Let’s look at some facts that kids that learn how to play an instrument, read music and develop these skills increase their ability in other basic areas of their education – math, reading, science.  Now this is not my theory but many studies have been done to prove this.  Now scientist like to prove everything from A – Z and most of the time the administrators of our school systems listen.   So now we do not have monkey bars and merry-go-rounds or dissecting of real “dead” frogs.  So you would think in this economy and where the school system is all about performance and test scores for each school, that they would listen to some well “educated” scientist about how music will ENHANCE students math, reading retention and science scores!!  Now this is a novel thought – LISTEN to what these studies are telling you.   Those students who took music have a BETTER score than those who did not.   Are they just naturally smarter?  maybe, maybe not.  Have you ever tried to sing along with the choir at church or even on the hay wagon during Christmas, not by memory but by using the music sheet/book?  I can never find the right pitch, or go to high or low all the time.  Now I know that the notes up higher on the bar mean that I should sing higher but when there are multiple notes going on I get all confused.  And how does one write a song for 50 musicians? or 50 instruments? and how in the world do jazz musicians know when to start, stop, etc.  I am truly in aaahhh every time.

Let’s face the truth educators and administrators here is a simple way to increase your test scores and the performance of each and every student:  REQUIRE MUSIC TO ALL STUDENTS FROM 3rd GRADE TO 10th GRADE.     Like the following musicians who went on to obtain college degrees and then found success in music;  Yo-Yo Ma, Bonnie Rait, Lisa Loeb, Alicia Keys (was offered a full ride to Columbia but choose to follow music first) , Art Garfunkel, Russell Simmons (musician and now producer).

So let’s keep beating that drum and keep music in our schools.   Someday I’ll find the beat. 

Oh yeah —  here’s the research for you skeptics —http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060920093024.htm

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